Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, the spiritual master of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, spread Krsna consciousness throughout India during the early part of this century. He opened sixty-four temples, wrote several books and many essays, and published many books written by his predecessor spiritual masters. He was the leader of the spiritual institution known as the Gaudiya Math and oversaw the distribution of large numbers of books on Krsna consciousness. Here we present a translation of selected verses from his Bengali poem Vaisnava Ke? ("Who Is a Vaisnava?")

ONE IS TRULY a Vaisnava who has given up the habit of falling victim to the ferocious tigress of wealth, beauty, and fame. Such a soul is factually detached from material life, and is known as a pure devotee. Someone with this consciousness of detachment has thereby become victorious over the mundane world of birth and death.

ONE IS INDEED detached who moderately partakes of worldly things deemed necessary for living in devotional service; a devotee acting in that manner does not fall prey to the disease of material infatuation. Thus devoid of selfish attachment and endowed with the ability to see things in relation to the Lord, the devotee perceives all sense objects as being Lord Madhava [Krsna] Himself.

THIS IS THE STANDARD of befitting renunciation, and one who realizes this is most fortunate indeed. Everything involved in such a devotee's life represents Lord Hari's personal spiritual opulence as manifest in the world of matter. On the other hand, one who engages in chanting the Lord's name with hopes of enhancing his own material reputation finds that all his activities and paraphernalia represent only the riches of hypocrisy.

O MIND, please reject the company of two types of persons: those desiring impersonal liberation from the material world, and those who desire to enjoy the pleasure of material sense objects. Both of them are equally nondevotees. Things used in relation to Lord Krsna are objects belonging directly to the transcendental realm, and thus having nothing to do with matter they cannot be either owned or forsaken by persons interested in mundane enjoyment or renunciation.

Translation by Dasaratha-suta Dasa